Running Jump

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What seems to be the trouble , he asks .

I cough and splutter all over the place .

He gets the message .

Sits down to write the certificate .

There , he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick .

I peruse it quickly .

There’s something missing, I say, why I had time off .

That’s right . If you had Alzheimers or a social disease would you want

people to know ?

Certainly not .

My point exactly .

But I thought you had to put something down .

No , he says . And if they ask , tell them to take a running jump . Better still , tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms .

He stands up . Shakes my hand .

 

The next day at work I hand in the certificate .

He’s right .

They see the blank space but no one says a word .

I push it a bit further .

On the official form , the one you fill out yourself , where it says Illness I put down ‘See Certificate’ .

It feels good . It really does .

I’ve found a new way to treat with the world .

Uncle Bert

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I remember Uncle Bert.

He had had a stroke.

His mouth was always open

Though he never spoke.

 

He sat on his armchair

Alongside Aunty Pat

Who did the speaking for him.

She was good at that.

 

He once looked a film star

A Gable or a Flynn.

And often charmed the ladies

with a rakish grin.

 

But then one day he emptied

and forever after that

Loyal as a labrador

he followed Aunty Pat.

 

 

The First Word

 

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What’s the first word you’re going to forget? The first word that’s going to slip through the sieve in your brain?

The name of your partner, child, grandson?

With me it was an item of food.

A breakfast food we eat once a week on Wednesday. I knew it began with ‘c’ and that it was a French-sounding word like ‘croutons’ but it wasn’t that.

I could have asked my partner but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

I did not want to acknowledge that ‘the forgetting’ had begun.

 Then after a week it came to me in a flash, like the click of a thumb. I wrote it down on a pad with a marker pen just in case but I needn’t have bothered.

Now I enjoy my croissants that little bit more.

 

 

 

The Insoluble Problem of Motivation

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It had been on the vacant lot next to the church

For over half a year and no one in all that time

 

Could rustle up enough motivation to mow the lawn

Or clear it of rubbish. I thought of calling

 

The number on the back a few times but just couldn’t

Get motivated enough to ring or attend one

 

Of their weekly meetings & I thought about something

A friend had said about running a Special Olympics

 

For the Motivationally Challenged but the problem

With that, I said, was that nobody would bother

 

To turn up. I thought then of the historically highly

Motivated: Hitler, Stalin, the rapacious bankers, Isis

 

And concluded that a low motivated populace isn’t

Necessarily a bad thing.

 

At the Physio: A Humerus Poem

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As soon as you walk in you see them paraded

along the walls

exemplars of Beauty and Strength:

Warnie unleashing a leg spinner,

Its eye on middle stump, Krygios rocketing another ball

past his opponent,

Thorpie diving into glory,

even one of cane growers in Queensland,

big blocky blokes in blue singlets

bringing in the harvest;

of Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics.

But my humerus and hamstrings

were playing up.

On good days

I can do almost anything, but

on bad ones I can barely put one foot in front

of the other, bounce a ball

let alone slam it down centre court

at 200 kph

and the only way I could get in a pool is to fall in it.

The Perverse Mathematics of Anxiety

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Something niggles you

All week

Like a nail

 

in yr shoe

And you put up with it

That’s what

 

You do.

And then it’s all over

In two minutes

 

Flat

and you wonder

hey! why did I

 

Ever worry that?

But listen up! here’s

the sting:

 

The very thing

You gave no thought

to at all

 

burdens you all week

like an extra ball

in yr pants.

 

Life is brief.

Loosen up. Don’t worry.

Dance

Bar Room Brawl

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You had to fore warn people.

It was not a good look.

Scabs and bruises on the upper lip

Sores on the nose

So you said, “bar room brawl”

Half jokingly, “but you should have seen

The other fellow.”

It was more dramatic, more grunge-romantic

Than humdrum “cold sores.”